Following up yesterday’s cover story about the challenges facing the George Benson Waterfront Streetcar, the Times is reporting today that officials from St. Louis have visited Seattle and are looking at possibly purchasing the streetcars, which are currently in storage. From the Times:

More bad news for those five beloved, 1920s waterfront streetcars that draw such emotional responses from Seattleites.

They could well be heading out of town.

The streetcars have been warehoused out of sight near the Metro bus complex just east of Safeco Field for the last seven years.

But at least they were still here, even if in limbo, as lonely reminders of the city’s quirkier past, giving hope to their fans that something could be done to save them.

Now it turns out that if you’re interested in buying them — yes, getting them out of here — Metro will give you a showing.

Go ahead, make ’em an offer.

Just last week, Doug Campion, project manager for the Loop Trolley in St. Louis — a $43 million project that will run vintage streetcars, and is set to begin construction later this year — came to town to look them over.

Campion says about Seattle’s elegant streetcars, constructed with beautiful Tasmanian mahogany and white ash, “They’ve taken very good care of them. They’re certainly very nice.”

Now he’s back in St. Louis, putting together the numbers.

Metro says it’ll listen to an offer.

Jim Jacobson, Metro’s deputy general manager, says the classic trolleys “would be better served by serving people than having them parked.”

Full story here.

114 Replies to “Times: St. Louis Interested in Buying Waterfront Streetcars”

  1. Sorry, No room for quirky tourist/kid/family adventures along the waterfront with the Grand Boulevard coming(choked with cars and trucks avoiding the DBT like the plague).
    But we did get a wonderful sculpture park park that serves to enlighten overflow crowds each and every day. Thank you SAM and the Gates for this wonderful trade-off.
    Old wooden boats will surely be the next to go.

    1. I was down at the sculpture park yesterday and it sure looked to me like they could have built the shed into the berm on the uphill side of the park.

      I will admit that they have a very nice view from that park and it was enjoyable place to visit. But I am extremely disappointed in how it was used to remove the waterfront trolleys, a service that could have been used to bring the tourists to the park.

      Also I couldn’t help but notice the huge cruise ship up at pier 91 and that had the street car run there, it would be running at overflow capacity every time one of those behemoths docked.

      1. I’m told Metro staff provided a design to the SAM people which would have integrated a new barn into the park. They weren’t interested.

  2. Hey, it was a little-used rail line anyway.

    Besides, they impeded traffic, and were even known to savage the public’s preferred conveyance at times.

    “Waterfront rail line? We don’t need no stinkin’ waterfront train!”

  3. My posted comment to the June 17 story:

    “As a city temp, I contributed to the 1998 Waterfront Streetcar Extension Study. I have since served as planner for several rail transit projects around the country.

    I endorse reintroducing the Benson Line along the new waterfront. The old single-track configuration limited its utility. With the viaduct removed, certainly there is room for an exclusive double-track transitway–at least south of the Aquarium. With the transitway, there would be no waiting in a siding for the oncoming streetcar to pass.

    I also believe that streetcar has a place on First Avenue. Though close to the waterfront, the slope north of Coleman Dock is a pedestrian barrier that makes First Ave a separate transit corridor. Also, it is unlikely that First Ave will have dedicated transit lanes–thus giving the waterfront transitway added attraction. Modern cars seem like the best fit (along First Avenue).

    Benson Line cars as a shuttle between Pier 70/Sculpture Park and the International District sounds fine. However, the Waterfront Transitway would also have utility for the greater Seattle Streetcar Network. Use modern vehicles and trainsets to extend south along First Avenue S. through the Stadium District, past the Starbucks Center, and on to the SODO light rail station. Extend north over a future Broad Street Bridge to Uptown (via Western), and from there to South Lake Union.

    The Benson Line is an existing transportation asset that deserves appreciation and use. The Waterfront seems like a great place for its return.”

  4. Functionally, a streetcar is nothing more than BRT that is a little harder to defund (but clearly not impossible; see: waterfront streetcar).

    While, ideally, we could have the time and money to invest in more streetcars, there are much higher priority investments that we need to make first. Namely, we should be spending all of our effort and money on building a true grade-separated transit system, such as the Seattle Subway.

    If we built a second ave subway, it will only be 1/5th of a mile between it and the waterfront. True, there is a bit of a hill, but we simply can’t deliver rapid transit within less than 1/5th of a mile for the whole city yet. Maybe, someday, we can have streetcars every few blocks, but for today, I would be perfectly happy if all we could do is build the current vision of the Seattle Subway.

    1. +1 on the subway. People keep talking about putting a streetcar on 1st Ave – well Metro is doing everything it can to get buses off of 1st Ave due to congestion, and I know the business owners are going to scream bloody murder if you try to take away parking to build platforms. You’d spend vast amounts of political capital and hundreds of millions of dollars to build something that would do *absolutely nothing* to improve transit mobility.

      Let’s focus on building a way to get around this city that doesn’t involve driving or waiting for a half-hourly bus that’s always 10 minutes late. Then we can talk about building a pokey streetcar on perpetually-congested 1st Ave.

      1. +1 for grade separation / subway – there are too many vehicles and stop lights in some of these areas and Seattle is still a growing city. What would traffic look like in 10 years?

    2. I really think we should focus on a 1st Ave subway and a waterfront streetcar line that connects to it at Broad Street.

    3. Hi Stephen. I can’t sit-by and wait for a second Downtown subway while valuable transportation assets get tossed. Even First Avenue is too far removed from the Waterfront once you get to about University Street. The new Waterfront, with its big new right-of-way south of the Aquarium, should provide space for transit. The existing Waterfront Streetcar and other Seattle Streetcar Network vehicles seem like a good fit.

      Here’s a crazy subway idea: from the Aquarium, climb the hill (or a viaduct) diagonally toward Steinbrueck Park. Cross under the new, conceptual pedestrian slope and tunnel into the hillside above the BNSF tunnel. Subway station at Pike Place, and continue under Pine Street. Get creative, and somehow make it into Convention Place Station. Now you have a corridor that can connect SLU, Cascade, the Denny Triangle and Convention District to Westlake, Pike Place, and the Central Waterfront. Continue south to the stadiums and SODO Station.

      The point of this is: a Waterfront transitway south of the Aquarium opens lots of opportunities for transit. Toss in the foot ferries and an enhanced West Seattle Water Taxi as connecting services.

      Peter

      1. I think that would be a very worthwhile idea to investigate. However, that would not use the existing waterfront streetcars, but instead modern vehicles.

  5. I never understood why the Waterfront Streetcar wasn’t run as a tourist attraction like the Monorail. Charge $3 one-way or $5 for a round-trip ride and only operate a limited schedule when tourists aren’t around (winter, mid-week, whatever) instead of running it like it’s a bus. That line was never really “transit” and running it like it was “transit” was the real problem.

    Total bummer that we can’t get more money for those streetcars. They’re cool, even if they’re impractical.

    1. No — the streetcars were actually useful to the employees and students who used it to get to the area around Pier 70. (Businesses like RealNetworks, schools like the Art Institute and the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.) The streetcars don’t have to be just a toy.

    2. Most of the time I rode the streetcar, it was to get to meetings or to connect to the ferries. Very rarely did I use it for tourist purposes. The current bus does not give me the same function as the streetcar.

      1. Back when the streetcar was running I’d gladly wait for the next car if I was going somewhere it went, even just between IDS and the ferry terminal. Now I just walk, ride my bike, or skip the waterfront entirely.

        The streetcar was fun and had a ton of class.

  6. The problem with these old street cars is the floor hieght. The line on the waterfront needed raised stations to access them. This makes it so you cannot run them in the street as easily as the SLUT does. There is not room on the future waterfront for a separated rail corridor.

    1. These cars operate in Melbourne, Australia without platforms. Perhaps re-installing their steps and adding some kind of a lift or mini-platforms at each station is the solution?

      1. I believe some other cities with Melbourne cars have done just that.

        But it can’t work here, you know, it is the hills, and the water, and the soil …

  7. It’s not as much that these vintage streetcars are going, going, gone, as accessibility requirements and economics make the operation of vintage trolleycars less and less viable.
    It is more about how the city and Metro have gone about this, pushing their agenda in a passive aggressive manner through the removal of the trolley barn when building OSP, then breaking their promise to find a place in Pioneer Square for the barn, to now removing rail along the waterfront that the trolley cars ran on.
    At least they could be up front and honest about their intentions. Eyeman and Kemper could learn a thing or two from metro and the Seattle City Council.

    1. I think you’re incorrectly reading what happened. In my opinion it isn’t so much that elected had some passive aggressive vendetta against the streetcar, its that the streetcar was simply thrown into limbo by the saga knows as the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Compared to the AWV, the streetcar pales in importance and compared to a streetcar connection on 1-5th street a waterfront streetcar is less important.

    2. Don’t forget that the Benson streetcars were slow and infrequent when they were running. We need better transit than that. The vintage streetcars are fine as an extra, but not if they’re the only transit on Alaskan Way.

      1. Slow?

        They could get going at a pretty good clip between Pike Place Hill Climb and Pier 70.

        They needed more double-tracking and/or more passing sidings. There are enough cars to run a 10 minute frequency easily if it was not for the track set-up.

      2. God forbid when alaskan way is rebuilt either more passing sidings are installed or double track is. Cars are easy to come by, i think theres still a fair slection sitting in the US, and i’m sure if you talked nice enough to the aussies…

      3. See the F-Market and E-Embarcadero lines in San Francisco which is a 100% vintage fleet, mostly PCC cars. The recently re-opened surface line in Philadelphia which uses refurbed PCC cars. The Mattapan high-speed line in Boston which never stopped running PCC cars. There are still plenty of PCC cars around. Some in fairly decent shape.

        For that matter there is a US company who will build modern copies of various vintage streetcars for a price less than a modern streetcar. (they also refurbish streetcars and could rebuild the Melbourne cars)

        So rolling stock isn’t a problem if it is needed.

      4. I believe the current plan is for NO transit on Alaskan Way. Any transit is faster than none.

        Without restoring the Benson Line to the Waterfront we might get the 99 which is infrequent and in the transit route death spiral which will only accelerate once the RFA disappears.

        Besides we’re investing billions in the waterfront, why not a streetcar too? The SLUT was put in to help property owners in SLU, why does the same thing not apply to the waterfront? Don’t forget that the streetcar brought plenty of people to Pioneer Square and the International District as well. The merchants in Pioneer Square certainly felt the impact when the line closed.

    1. I don’t think we really have an opinion so I guess in general we’re apathetic.

    2. I don’t think we’ve taken an editorial position on restoring the Benson line. I’m personally skeptical of it as a transit project, but if it were run as a tourist attraction, like the Monorail, paid for with a Waterfront/Pioneer Square LID, I’d be all for it. I see east-west mobility between Broad St and Marion St as a much more interesting problem for pedestrian/transit mobility.

  8. The waterfront streetcar made a profit, so it was not “little used”.
    I would love to see its return, but the powers that be really seem to want to kill it.

    1. “In 1991, the line garnered fare box revenues of $129,600 versus an annual operating cost of $862,000. Besides advertising sales, federal grants and other sources, the operating deficit was partially offset by the elimination of conventional bus service along the central waterfront.”

      According to the reactivation study linked from the article.

  9. The loss of the last seven years’ Waterfront Streetcar service, let alone present uncertainty, says things about Seattle that I’m not prepared to accept as the last word. If San Francisco can have a street rail system featuring both modern and historic equipment, so can we.

    Today’s Times article gives an e-mail address for Tom Gibbs, former Metro executive director and present stadium board member. Suggest everybody who agrees with above paragraph get in touch with him.

    Mark Dublin

    1. “The loss of the last seven years’ Waterfront Streetcar service, let alone present uncertainty, says things about Seattle that I’m not prepared to accept as the last word. If San Francisco can have a street rail system featuring both modern and historic equipment, so can we.”

      Quoted for truth.

    2. Even the article had the truth “Those street cars are an attraction all by themselves.”

      I can attest to that, I used to play tourist in my own town and bring the kids down to the tracks on the weekend to ride back and forth. Beats Disneyland any day.

  10. Has anyone floated the idea of moving them to some other neighborhood in Seattle? Perhaps some place like West Seattle or Ballard would put them to good use…

    1. There is the Ballard Terminal RR trackage, but a streetcar through there would likely run into a buzzsaw of opposition from the local business owners (see: Burke-Gilman extension). There’s also the problem of FRA rules about track separation and collision standards.

      1. The Ballard Terminal RR is single-tracked, and they park cars at various points for various purposes all the time. There is no way in hell you could run a passenger trolley on that ROW, FRA or not.

    2. I (half-jokingly) suggested yesterday that we run them up Beacon Hill from the International District. A shuttle along Beacon Ave to Jefferson Park — our own tourist attraction.

      The suggestion was only half-joking.

  11. I rode it once with some out of town guests and it was adorable. It’s a little sad, but it was never a great transportation project, more of a tourist thing.

    It’s pretty different from the F “Market and Wharves” in San Francisco that runs heritage cars but is actually a useful transportation project as well.

    1. I wonder if San Francisco would still have ‘little cable cars, climbing halfway to the sky’ if Seattle Pols and WSDOT ran the place?
      Probably not, as it would interfere with the DBT to replace their own viaduct, and besides, who in their right mind would want to travel on a stinky, crowded, vintage cable car when a bright shiny new rail car could do it better.
      As a plus, removing all the overpriced restaurants and shops around Fishermans Wharf would make room for modern TOD cubicles.
      Now that’s a City to be Proud of.

    2. I was in San Francisco last November, and they have a variety of streetcars on the F line. The 1950s streetcars are significantly faster, smoother, and quieter than the older ones (1920s and 1880s) — in fact, their performance is about the same as the SLUT and Portland streetcars. After riding the older ones a couple times, I always wished a newer one would arrive first. Becuase I was actually using the streetcar for transportation, not just for a joyride. The older streetcars are retired in the evening and only the newer ones run, so MUNI has clearly decided they’re the baseline service.

      1. The baseline service on the F-line is operated by rehabbed PCCs purchased from Philadelphia and Newark (and painted in the colors of cities that had PCCs) and by Peter Witts from Milan. From my experience the other cars in their collection only come out on Sunny days and then only run from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Ferry Building.

        All you ever wanted to know about this is here:

        http://www.streetcar.org/streetcars/

    3. I think sometimes the people who say that the streetcar wasn’t a useful transportation project are just people who don’t work or attend school along the line. For those of us who do/did, it could be pretty darned useful — but it would have been more so with more frequent trips and later operating hours.

      1. By “useful” I meant “cost-effective”. Sure it helps people get places, but the question is does it make sense financially to invest in rebuilding the line?
        The document attached to the Times article estimated $10-12 million in Capital costs and $2 million in operating costs. That to me is not cost-effective given the demand in this corridor.

      2. There are other economic effects from having the line there. (For example, I imagine some of the waterfront merchants would find the increased tourism activity a net plus. And of course, anything that gets people out of their cars is good.)

      3. Sure, that’s why the LID mechanism exists, for groups of property owners to build public infrastructure that primarily benefits that area. That’s how much of the SLUT was paid for.

    4. I’ll remind you that for the Market Street portion of the F “Market and Wharves” line both BART and MUNI are running in a subway along the same street. I mean how DARE the City of San Francisco spend money on such wasteful duplication of service. Just think of the additional service they could add to Greary if they weren’t wasting money on the F line.

    1. It’s worth noting that this cars were not in Seattle during the streetcar era. Seattle instead purchased them from Melbourne in the 1980s and 1990s I believe.

      1. Yes. I had an Australian friend visiting who had grown up in Melbourne and I took him on the streetcar, and he said it reminded him of his childhood.

      2. I understand that. But their history since arriving in the city is significant. The proponent of the streetcars, restoration of a line, and inspiration to all rail transit in the city and region since. Not only that, they are a symbol of a ressurgent Seattle rennaissance and revitalisation as an urban centre of living, activity, and innovation. That alone is worth historic protection status as its integral part of that period of Seattle’s history and its future.

      3. Sausage rolls remind me of my childhood in Australia.

        Stephen, I do agree they should be preserved as long as it’s not expensive to do so. $1 million for 5 trains isn’t enough money to make worth while.

      4. They are genuine W2s and George Benson got them for a bargain. The story he always told us was that Melbourne passed laws banning further export after he got them and that Melbourne very much wanted these cars back.

        Also, George Benson did far more for Seattle than Mimi Gardner ever can, but then George never went to the right Cocktail Parties.

      5. In addition “Benson’s Folly” inspired vintage streetcar lines all over North America. Seattle was the first city to build a vintage streetcar line to attract tourists and provide circulation between attractions as well as attempt to revitalize the neighborhoods it ran through.

  12. This is completely unacceptable. This is an issue we really need to show our displeasure over. I don’t know many people who want the waterfront cars to be gone. Whether it is “just a tourist thing” or not is not the issue. Not everything has to be purely utilitarian. Seattle should understand that as much as any other US city. This isn’t about transport, it’s about our waterfront and the character of the city… not to mention it’s history.

  13. My own take on the waterfront streetcar line is that while it could have some value as a tourist attraction, it would be hard to make it into a useful transit project. Maybe if the businesses down there wanted to help pay for it?

    There are so many other more important transit needs (Seattle Subway, DT streetcar connector, etc.) that trump the waterfront line and need our help advocating for them that it’s hard to get motivated to save the waterfront line.

    That being said, it would be short-sighted to sell them now. Wait until the plans for the waterfront have been finalized and we’re sure we don’t want them.

    1. It was a “useful transit project”.

      It connected the waterfront and lower Belltown (site of thousands of workplaces) to the International District Station and King Street Station.

      I gather there have been some improvements to the rail transit services at those locales in the past decade?

      1. I understand where it went.

        The estimates on the document attached to the Seattle Times article were between $10-12 million to reactivate the line. I don’t think that this corridor warrants that amount of spending, when the bus route that replaced it is lightly used and will be peak only come this winter.

        If the 99 were packed like the 41, you might have a point. But it’s not.

      2. The 99 isn’t packed because it’s nearly useless as is. I want to see the streetcar brought back with enhancements to make it useful — more frequency and later hours. This requires some double-tracking, though.

        When I get to work or get off work up there on the waterfront I never even see the 99 bus.

      3. Don’t forget transit is about experience too. The experience of the 99 is of a rattling, shaking, unreliable, infrequent, “econobox” bus. A train, especially vintage, speaks of class. It’s a psychological thing and does wonders for transit. Although, I’d rather see a modern subway than toy streetcars too.

      4. Really all you have to do is compare the ridership on the Waterfront Streetcar to the 99. Even when the 99 was ressed up with bus wraps, more frequent, and ran in both directions on the waterfront the ridership on the 99 was pathetic and has gotten even worse now that the route is a one way loop and has entered the transit route death spiral of service cuts due to low ridership leading to lower ridership, etc.

        Remember the streetcar was never free, but had plenty of riders, the 99 is free and you can’t get anyone to ride the damn thing.

        Beyond the fun aspect, don’t dismiss the usefulness of tourist attractions to drive other revenue. We spend millions on stadiums, convention centers, cruise ship terminals, museums, etc. in the name of attracting tourists and the money they bring. Why not a streetcar? Pioneer Square Merchants certainly felt the streetcar helped to bring foot traffic to the neighborhood which resulted in more people spending money. A vintage waterfront streetcar is relatively cheap compared to some of the other things done in the name of attracting tourists and their dollars.

        After years of construction on the Alaska Way Viaduct, the seawall, the DBT, the new surface highway, and the waterfront park, both the waterfront and Pioneer Square are going to be in sore need of something to attract people and foot traffic. What better way than the streetcar.

        For that matter I’m sure the cost of extending the streetcar to Pier 91 would be more than offset by the amount of money spent by cruise ship passengers who might otherwise skip seeing the sights in Seattle and just shuttle between their vessel and their hotel or the airport.

    2. Make it useful? How about rebuild the line and extend it to W Galer St. I seem to recall a pedestrian bridge there. Then build a small Sounder platform for the the North Line where people can get off Sounder and transfer to the streetcar or Rapid Ride to get to the north end of downtown. It also has the added benefit of serving the Amgen area.

  14. Follow the Money!

    As with everything, there is a motive for getting rid of cheap transit access to the SAM Sculpture Park, and this is contained in the following paragraphs:

    PACCAR Pavilion Garage

    Pay parking is available in the PACCAR Pavilion garage. The entrance to the parking garage is on the southeast corner of the park at Broad Street and Western Avenue. Open daily from 6 am–11 pm. No overnight parking.

    Weekday Rates
    0–2 Hours $6
    2–4 Hours $8
    4–6 Hours $12
    6–8 Hours $15
    All Day $22
    Weekend Rates

    0–4 Hours $5
    4–10 Hours $10

    From:
    http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/visit/OSP/default.asp

    1. Parking costs downtown are outrageous! What’s wrong with Seattle Politicians?

      Traffic congestion in the Puget Sound region is outrageous! What’s wrong with the 3 county politicians?

      Gas prices in the state are outrageous! What’s wrong with the State Politicians?

      We can’t waste millions of dollars on these anachronisms, there’s better things to spend our money on !

      1. What do you propose? Should the city mandate parking rates? Spend taxes on building lots of parking garages?

        What should we do about congestion? Destroy neighborhoods and spend millions of dollars widening roads and building new highways?

        What should we do about gas prices? Spend tax money subsidizing the cost?

      2. Jim,
        A roads-only plan would go down in flames with the voters. This is why the State wanted to tie the 2007 ST2 vote to the regional roads package, because the road package wouldn’t be able to pass on its own.

        Sure you can call all you want for a roads-only measure but there simply isn’t the political support to even bring such a thing to the ballot much less to pass it.

  15. Bring back the waterfront trolleys. For those of us who live close to Alaska Way they provided great transportation to Pioneer Square. It was great to take them to First Thursday evenings. Now Metro has moved our buses from 1st to 3rd, another inconvenience. Even if just run in the summer for tourists it would be wonderful, so many cruise passengers right there! Maybe a service barn could be built at the north end of the run next to the Spaghetti Factory, that building’s architecture fits right in with the style of the trolleys.

    1. Deborah, exactly. The trolleys are useful to people in that area, and Metro buses are not very helpful now. It’s a hell of a hike up that hill to 3rd Avenue.

  16. There’s no way in the world that someone can tell me the 99 will run faster than the streetcar in heavy traffic w/lights along Alaska.

    We all know the streetcars got screwed by the city, and that monstrosity of a “art park”. An earlier poster summed it up perfectly, passive aggressive bullshit by the city with broken promises (on purpose is my opinion), leading to removing the tracks two months ago, all pure ridiculousness.

    How can anyone in Seattle be expected to support mass transit when there are decisions like this?

  17. It’s unfortunate that the Seattle Art Museum couldn’t figure out a way to incorporate the maintenance facility into the Sculpture Park. It shouldn’t have been impossible for SAM to see the value of having a vintage streetcar system delivering tourists and possibly even local citizens to the park every 15 minutes.

    1. It has always astounded me that they couldn’t find a way to do this. Imagine the increased attractiveness to tourists if the maintenance barn was itself “artistic” in the garden (or perhaps a tour or museum incorporated into it) — more people would visit the sculpture garden!

    2. I remember reading a comment at the time from one of the head Sculpture Park guys, and he was a king sized jerk…well, his tone was definitely hyper-pissy when in came to the trolley. I wish I could dig up the original comment, but it was basically that “our” precious park will not be be visually vandalized by the trolley barn. There was definitely a resistance to any creative solutions, and compromise was impossible (his sentiment).

      I have not been, nor will ever go to the Sculpture Park purely due to that blowhard. The whole de-trolleying process was definitely done in the shadows. Some arty people in this town have some rather exceptional power, it seems.

      1. The art crowd definitely saw the Waterfront Trolley as too low-brow and kitschy to be associated in any way with their high-brow sculpture garden.

      2. Hey, arena! Save our trolleys

        [Trolleys] became even more lovable when they were shunned by the city’s elites.

        The Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park killed the waterfront trolley line, razing its night shed and maintenance barn. Ever since, the five 1920s trolleys have been homeless, squatting in the dark of a Metro warehouse.

      3. Bernie has a really good point. The transit (and bike, and walking) access to the NBA-wish-for/NHL-wish-for arena is not terribly good without a plan. Who will ride the streetcar from the I-District (or SODO Station)? Tourists! Where are many of them going? To see their team. How many will jump on a public bus to get to the local attractions (including the arena and the outdoor White Elephant Art Musuem)? Not many.

        A plan that connects the front door of the arena with the I-District transit hub, and brings back a waterfront streetcar while reducing street lanes, would make me a whole lot less likely to campaign against the arena.

        (Of course, a new Link station, designed to minimize walking distance to the arena’s front door, might turn out to be much cheaper.)

  18. It makes me sad to see the un-used rail where the waterfront streetcar once provided service. It was convenient and relatively frequent. It connected the ferries and water taxis to King Street Station and Link. It is somewhat weird that the line is not used. I hear the sculpture park is a good place to walk your dog. A bunch of super-sized fire-hydrant type structures.

    1. Correction, it would have connected the cruise passengers to Link, as the two never coexisted. A passenger coming from SeaTac to the cruise terminal could have traveled the whole way via rail.

      1. Yes, you are correct. I realized that right after I wrote my little blurb. Link did not exist at the time the waterfront streetcar was running.

  19. Why not run a modified line along Western? It could terminate at or near Steinbrueck Park at the north end and either terminate at Yesler or continue south to Railroad Av and the stadiums at the south end. That would be close enough to the waterfront while providing a connection between the waterfront and Pike Place Market and not impacting vehicular traffic on first avenue. Western could be the thread between the waterfront and downtown. Why the hell not?

    1. and would perhaps serve to rejuvenate Western, which feels much less alive than it did even a few years ago.

  20. Let’s not forget, the sculpture park wasn’t here when the first settlers arrived. It was built by us, which means it can be removed by us. I think pretty much everyone here would agree to the basic principle that the vintage trolleys are good, and that the sculpture park pretty much sucks, so let’s do something about it.

    1. I have no beef with the sculpture park. I’m just not sure why it considered simply and utterly impossible to build the park without making some accommodation for the streetcar line.

      For that matter, the sculpture park would likely benefit from streetcar access, and the streetcar would have benefited from additional ridership generated by the sculpture park. Why wasn’t this seen as a win-win?

      1. because, as stated above, the people who were doing the sculpture park design weren’t interested in transit (and hey, they got a parking garage out of the deal). Logically speaking, of course, you’re absolutely right, but this wasn’t about logic.

  21. It amazes me that for as pro rail and transit as the STB is, a lot of people here consider the waterfront streetcar line a mere toy, without realizing with a bit of investment that it can be an even better transportation investment that it already was. Equipment can be bought, tracks can be improved. I’m sure in melbourne they ran these same W2s every 5 minutes, and if they can, theres no reason we cant either if we have enough of them.

    1. There’s nothing on the waterfront that remotely requires five minute north-south service. There are, however, mobs of people up on 1st Ave who’d use better and more inviting pedestrian connections down to the waterfront.

      1. aahhh yesterday there were mobs of people on the waterfront… It’s highly used in the summer by tourists. With a connection to our major transit links at King Street station it would be part of an integrated rail system for the region.

      2. “yesterday there were mobs of people on the waterfront”

        Oh sweet, sounds like they were able to make it there without building a streetcar or a ton of parking. Problem solved! We can go spend the money somewhere else.

      3. Never mind how a streetcar would or wouldn’t serve current waterfront transportation needs. Think ahead to what it’ll be like when the viaduct’s gone and a surface boulevard is in place. There’s no reason why some manner of streetcar shouldn’t be a part of it.

        And the time to start demanding it is now. Otherwise you’ll just get a 6 lane road and more buses.

      4. Yes but few in Pioneer Sq. And yes people can get to the waterfront via walking that’s how I got there. But really the street car is like 90% there, stations, wiring, most of the track. It would take way less money and time to get it running than the First Hill line.

  22. They could sell them to Yakima and use them on the Yakima to Selah line. At least they would still be in WA. state….

  23. I e-mailed councilmember Conlin and he said while there’s nothing he can do about the tracks being ripped out, he says a streetcar is a potential option…

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